art, Nature, New England, New Green Economy, Science, Uncategorized

Glass Flora: A Very Harvard Natural History

Glass flora in Cambridge, Mass

A wonderful blog post about iced flora inspired this post about glass flora — glass flowers that is — in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

This is a permanent collection at the Harvard Natural History Museum.  It’s housed in one of those rare coordinates where art, craft, nature, beauty and research flourish together.

In the image to the right, the flowers shown are each made of glass, mostly blown glass.  It makes sense when you think about it:  what else could capture the luminosity of a live plant?  Ingenious.

The flowers were made to be botanically correct.  There are thousands of glass plants and flowers on display.  The specimens took over 50 years to complete: one glass bit at a time.

It really is mind blowing.  In a pleasant sort of way.

The models were made from 1887 through 1936. The Blaschkas’ studio was located in Hosterwitz, near Dresden, Germany.   Professor George Lincoln Goodale, founder of the Botanical Museum, wanted life-like representatives of the plant kingdom for teaching botany.  At the time only crude papier-mâché or wax models were available.  These glass flowers are elegant, understated (but revelatory for it).  They can only happen once in the arc of the human race: exquisitely unique to this time and place.

photo by kmhurley,  http://www.kmhurley.com

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Maybe Saving the World, New England, New Green Economy

Lynn Tilton Talks Back to New Hampshire

The 9th Annual Governor’s Advanced Manufacturing and High Technology Summit was held in Manchester, New Hampshire on December 7, 2011.  The annual event was kept under 500 attendees and tends to be fairly exclusive.

Featured speakers in December included NH Governor John Lynch and Lynn Tilton, a business mogul who is over-the top-well-dressed, a la Venus and Serena Williams.  Tilton was called “an unlikely combination of fashionista and Warren Buffett” by ABC news.   She’s a self-made billionaire (yes, with a b) and the CEO of a private equity firm and holding company that manages 76 companies worldwide.

Governor talks about walking the walk   First, Governor John Lynch– one of the most popular governors in history who is serving well into his third term — kicked off the event with an inspiring talk about New Hampshire’s exemplary economy.  Lynch reminded the audience of key achievements of New Hampshire, such as the low unemployment rate and low high school drop out rate.  He referenced a recent quote from President Obama:

While you’re in New Hampshire, instead of telling New Hampshire what you would do to make things better, consider asking what New Hampshire is doing and emulating that.

– President Obama, put to candidates coming to New Hampshire for the Primary (paraphrased by John Lynch, 12/7/11)

Lynn Tilton talks back  Lynn Tilton’s talk came next and sounded a more somber note.  She talked about the state of manufacturing in the greater US and pointed out that the picture is bleak.

“Americans want to get to work,” Tilton said.  “And they cannot.”

America as a “service economy” is dead, she said (if that idea were ever really alive).

“Americans want to work with their hands,” she said.  “And they cannot find work.”  The New Hampshire economic and labor landscape is an exception to this, with credit to John Lynch’s tenure in the state house.  But nationwide a shortage of jobs is certainly a problem.

Tilton clarified her position that people thrive on real work, not mental work like data entry.  “Satisfying jobs, where people make things, do things,” Tilton explained, as opposed to jobs where people push paper, answer phones  or do other, more cerebral tasks with no clear production.

(This is a nice sound bite, but bear in mind that when people “work with their hands” in Tilton’s automobile factories in Detroit, they’re on an assembly line, picture Laverne & Shirley; these are are not exactly pink-cheeked, strong-fingered souls hand-crafting canoes out of pine trees or crocheting blankets from flax for the winter ahead — never mind fishing, hunting or digging, cutting or planting in the great outdoors.   This is a factory assembly line here.)

(In fact, Seth Godin recently suggested that the old, industrial-revolution-style “factory system” as a basis for an economy — either a local or national economy — is no longer a reality.  Read:  the new economy by Seth Godin.)

Incoming… hopefully   Regardless, families need an income in this society.  Tilton talked about children whose guardians have none, children who are homeless, living in vehicles, bathing in public restrooms before school.  She drew from her own life experience where she saw first hand how a family can implode when one parent is no longer working (her father passed away when she was in college, she says she saw how losing a working parent radically changed the family’s situation and prospects).  Tilton said that what gets her up in the morning is the idea that she might provide economic infrastructure and opportunity so that one more person can work, for one more family to have a home and a secure life.

Her mission, she says, is to save America one family at a time.

The audience was pin-drop attentive during Tilton’s presentation.  This respect is partly due to her dossier, partly due to the fact that she’s an engaging speaker, and partly because everyone in attendance is very aware of Tilton putting action behind her words: she recently bought and resurrected New Hampshire’s ailing (if not deceased) Gorham Paper Mill, providing hundreds of area families the chance at – in her words – the American Dream.

Overall, the Ninth Annual Governor’s Advanced Manufacturing and High Technology Summit was an exceptional day.  The event featured sessions on supply chain with representatives from area companies such as Sturm-Ruger, Timken Aerospace and New Hampshire Ball Bearing.  Sponsors included Actio Corporation, BAE Systems, and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

This year’s event was sold out and arguably over capacity.  With more manufacturing companies coming to NH all the time – some high-profile, such as Andrea Rossi’s e-Cat cold fusion reactor plant which is slated to open in Bedford, right outside of Manchester – next year’s event will be a must-attend as well.

Environmental Regulations, EPA, FEMA, Green Tips, Health, New England

10 Myths About FEMA Aid for Vermonters

Went to Vermont for a long weekend — just one week after Hurricane Irene.   If you ever want to spend some wonderful days on a motorcycle, Vermont is a great place to go because the land is so unusual:  a forever-series of great rounded heights followed by low, river-spun valleys to glide along.  But beyond the ordinary extraordinary-ness of Vermont, we were amazed by what we saw.

Riding through Vermont after Irene
Riding through Vermont after Irene

Like a hurricane

Irene was no longer technically a hurricane when it hit Vermont, but you wouldn’t know that looking at the aftermath.  We saw towns with water marks two feet up the sides of buildings all the way down Main Street.  We saw bridges so washed out that the earth below the deepest footing was gone and the bridge hung in mid-air, twisted like rope candy, like a Twizzler.  We saw people selling muddy furniture in their front yards — people who looked very, very tired.

Vermont is mostly a series of vertical peaks and drops, with brooks that are barely rivers that crawl between the steep slopes of wooded mountains, the water pushing itself either east towards the Connecticut River or west to the top of the Hudson.

When it rains in this landscape, all rainwater rolls directly down the inevitable, often vertical, flanks of mountain and drops into those thin, vegan rivers.

As above, so below

The more water above, the more water below, it’s a direct equation.  The only variables have to do with how wet the ground is when the rain comes.  And this year — the year of Irene — the ground was already saturated from a few wet weeks preceding.  That variable increases the probability of flooding.

Almost a foot of rain fell from the sky in one day in parts of Vermont; the other parts got a half-foot.  Together across acreage, that’s many feet, that’s actually a lake.  The lake slid down mountainsides and into slender streams that swelled and surged into small towns that appear in Vermont in the only place they can: at the base of the steep slopes, next to the rivers.

As for us, we drifted in on motorcycles not as inquisitive storm chasers but because we’d planned the getaway months in advance.  We became witnesses of the storm’s effects by happening to be there.  We witnessed the water.  We witnessed the damage.  We ate in restaurants with people who were kind even though their eyes were pale because they had just lost everything: entire organic farms, homes, barns, ski lodges… a way of life… a retirement… an idea about how life is or should be….

On the journey home we got tangled up in road closures and detours and impassible routes — a 3 hour ride took 8 hours.  We would dismount and witness one wash-out after another, get back on our bikes, turn around, and head back the way we came.  Our inconvenience so tiny compared to theirs.

Our salute is to perhaps write a little bit about it later.

FEMA: “it’s your money, take it”

For days after we returned home to safety in eastern New Hampshire, the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA was still setting up relief shelters in the area of Vermont we’d just navigated.  Berkshires, Bennington, Barre.  We had just seen it, we were glad to see FEMA arriving to help.

As such, we thought we’d run this information about what it takes to qualify for FEMA aid.  Some of this surprised us, it may surprise you too.   It turns out that some Vermonters who were affected by Tropical Storm Irene may have not registered with FEMA for assistance — because of misconceptions or lack of accurate information.

Here are ten myths around whether or not you qualify for FEMA aid.

Top ten myths and facts about qualifying for FEMA aid

Beautiful even in disaster
Vermont is beautiful even in disaster

MYTH 1: I thought my income was too high for me to qualify.
FACT: There is no income cutoff for FEMA aid. Anyone with disaster damage or loss in the declared counties may be eligible for help. FEMA grants may cover under insured or uninsured losses.

MYTH 2: My insurance agent told me I wouldn’t be able to get help from FEMA because I have flood insurance.
FACT: Everyone with flood insurance should register. FEMA may be able to help with uninsured costs.

MYTH 3: I don’t want FEMA assistance because it will affect my Social Security benefits, taxes, food stamps or Medicaid.
FACT: FEMA assistance does not affect benefits from other federal programs and it is not reportable as taxable income.

MYTH 4: I’ve already cleaned up and made the repairs. Isn’t it too late?
FACT: You may be eligible for reimbursement of your clean up and repair expenses.

MYTH 5: I thought FEMA only gave loans. I don’t want a loan.
FACT: FEMA only provides grants that do not have to be repaid. FEMA’s individual assistance program covers expenses for temporary housing, home repairs, replacement of damaged personal property and other disaster-related needs, such as medical, dental or transportation costs not covered by insurance or other programs.

The U.S. Small Business Administration provides low-interest loans to renters, homeowners and businesses of all sizes. Some applicants may receive an SBA loan application after registering with FEMA. No one is obligated to take out a loan. But if they don’t complete the application, they may not be considered for other federal grants.

Vermont still looks like Vermont
FEMA helps Vermont regrow

MYTH 6: I’m a renter. I thought FEMA aid was only for homeowners to repair their homes.
FACT: FEMA may provide grants to help renters who lost personal property or were displaced.

MYTH 7: I heard there’s too much red tape and paperwork to register.
FACT: There is no paperwork to register with FEMA. You can do it with one phone call that takes a short while, by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with a speech disability or hearing loss who use a TTY can call 800-462-7585; or 800-621-3362 if using 711 or Video Relay Service. You can also register online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or via a web-enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov. The website helps reduce the number of forms to be filled out and shortens the time it takes to apply.

MYTH 8: I received disaster assistance last year. I thought I couldn’t get it again this year.
FACT: If you had damage from another federally declared disaster you may register for new assistance.

MYTH 9: Isn’t FEMA broke? Other people need the help more than I do.
FACT: FEMA has enough funding to assist all eligible survivors with immediate needs. You will not be taking from others if you register for aid yourself.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585; or call 800-621-3362 if using 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS).

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

SBA disaster loan information and application forms may be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET or by sending an e-mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Applications can also be downloaded from http://www.sba.gov or completed on-line at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

FEMA’ mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

MYTH 10: No one cares, Vermonters have to do it themselves, there is no help.

FACT:  There is help, the rest of us do care.  There is unemployment compensation, there are shelters and provisions, there is money.  Take the money!!

Good luck with the recovery effort, Vermont.  We know you can do it.

After Irene Bennington, Vermont
From the Bennington Monument, one week after Irene, you can see more rain approaching

photo credits:  images by kmhurley  at http: //www.kmhurley.com

Environmental Regulations, EPA, Nature, New England, New Green Economy, Saving the World

Green Communications Manager Job: New England

Occasionally these job descriptions & opportunities appear in my email inbox (via www.Indeed.com, the best web site for job seekers).  Job opps also pop up on LinkedIn automatically when a job opportunity more or less matches your current job title and experience.  This particular opportunity appeared today and may be of interest to readers of this blog.

The employer is asking quite a lot.  Salary is likely under-served, which is the first thing to find out – always – when approaching a non-profit.  It could be priceless experience — but only if you’re the type of person who doesn’t get resentful over a salary at about 1/2 of market rate.  (I am not one of those people, but have heard of them.)  If you’re very passionate about green initiatives, the environment, related legal pursuits and non-profits, run up to the net and see what they’re offering.

Even if you’re not in the market, this is a strong (if slightly over-served) job description for the role and the field.  Reading these things keeps your eye on the ball.

Senior Communications Manager – Conservation Law Foundation – Greater Boston Area
Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) is seeking a talented communications practitioner with a journalist’s eye for a good story, a storyteller’s knack for engaging an audience, an editor’s fine point and a publicist’s rolodex. Reporting directly to the director of communications, the senior communications manager will have 5-7 years of communications experience, with solid writing, editing, messaging and pitching skills. You will be able to develop and implement strategic and tactical communications plans that advance the organization’s mission and build awareness through promotion of its core programs and priorities, special campaigns and positions on key issues. Your thirst for knowledge and continual education about environmental issues, including climate change, clean energy, clean air, clean water, ocean conservation, transportation and environmental justice allow you to see creative possibilities for generating media interest around CLF’s people, positions and success stories. Your background will include experience in the nonprofit sector, preferably in the area of environmental issues/advocacy. Current knowledge of and experience with communicating in the digital age a must, with strong media relationships in the Boston area/New England region a plus.

Your responsibilities will include:
• Working with program heads, state directors and staff advocates to develop strategic messaging that flows through the organization’s communications to its various stakeholders
• Developing and editing content for the organization’s website, blog, social media sites and print publications
• Working with outside designers and printers to produce publications and communications materials, including CLF’s quarterly publication, Conservation Matters
• Pro-active and reactive media relations that generate regular, strategic, high-quality media coverage of Conservation Law Foundation and its work
• Developing strategic and tactical outreach plans that advance the organization’s advocacy goals
• Writing press releases and press statements, op-ed pieces, letters to the editor
• Working collaboratively with development, marketing and membership teams to ensure consistency of communications across the organization
• Planning and implementation of press events
• Developing metrics for success, monitoring and reporting for executives, staff and boards
• Public speaking and media training
• Monitoring of editorial calendars
• Development and maintenance of media lists
• Mentor and lead team members responsible for website and marketing administration

Desired Skills & Experience
• Demonstrated ability to distill complex issues and legal language into accessible and compelling stories for a variety of audiences and stakeholders
• Highly-collaborative creative thinker with a minimum of 5 years experience with messaging, public relations, and editing
• Ability to multi-task on different projects with different deadlines and work on multiple initiatives in parallel
• Excellent writing, editing, and proofreading skills
• Confident pitchman/woman with ability to develop and nurture strong media relationships
• Passion for environmental issues and continuous learning
• Boundless energy and intellectual curiosity
• Can-do attitude
• Bachelor’s degree required, preferably with an emphasis in communications or journalism
• 2-4 years of experience working in environmental field
• Experience with WordPress, Convio, Photoshop and InDesign strongly desired
• Knowledge of fundraising techniques and strategies
• Strong commitment to CLF’s mission

Interested candidates are required to send a cover letter and resume to: Human Resources at careers@clf.org or mail to: 62 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02110.

Application materials must be received no later than September 14th. Candidates of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

Company Description
Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. A non-profit, member-supported organization, CLF uses the law, science and the market to solve the region’s most challenging environmental problems from climate change to ocean conservation to transportation. Every day, CLF advocates stand up for New Englanders—in state houses, court houses and board rooms, regulatory hearings and community gatherings—to forge innovative paths to environmental progress and economic prosperity for our region.

Founded in 1966, CLF is recognized nationwide for taking on complex issues, sticking with them and getting results that make New England a better place to live, visit and do business, including: cleaning up Boston Harbor, restoring New England’s cod population, blocking oil and gas drilling on Georges Bank, preserving wilderness areas in Vermont and New Hampshire, reducing emissions from cars and trucks, laying the groundwork for widespread implementation of renewable energy, and winning some of the country’s strongest protections for clean air and clean water. CLF is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts with offices in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Health, Nature, New England, Snow, Winter

Hurricane Preparedness 2011: Smartphone Up!

The smartest thing you can get for hurricane preparedness is an off-grid charger for your cell phone.  A cell phone — particularly a smartphone — can serve as “find me” whistle, flashlight, information channel, family finder, and so much more.  Remember that smartphones especially have a short battery life.  This cannot be over-emphasized.  Nokero’s solar charger is good, see details here.  Or go to your nearest Sprint store or Whatever store or go to Best Buy and see what they have.

A serious hurricane in New England?  My father sat through a hurricane in 1938 that took down almost all the trees around Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire — where the family had a summer house.

new england hurricane 38 new hampshire
1938 hurricane in NH - photo by Peter Roome http://www.flickr.com/photos/roome/

EMERGENCY KIT  From experience, then, the Sensible Yankee hurricane emergency kit includes basics.  You can get through just about anything with:

  1. two gallons of water (supermarket)
  2. your eyeglasses/contact lenses/sunglasses/reading glasses
  3. your meds
  4. a sleeping bag or blanket or warm winter coat, pillows are nice
  5. non-perishable food (eg, canned food with can opener, Twinkies, Powerbars)
  6. extra flashlights and batteries
  7. Swiss Army Knife

Online, it appears the government preparedness instructions haven’t changed much since 1938.

FEMA has you storing up “moist towelettes” (?), a dust mask (?), a NOAA Weather Radio (no one under 40 knows what that is) and traveler’s checks (what?).

Suggestion: start with phone and off-grid charger and our Sensible Yankee list, above.  Then add stuff from their list if you have an encyclopedia, historical reference guide, and a lot of time to identify dated items and shop at 12 different stores and wait in line at a bank for traveler’s checks (again, what?).

OVERNIGHT BAG  Pack, because you may need to evacuate or you may not be able to find your stuff under stress.  Pretend you’re going camping for 3 days and pack accordingly.  Include toothpaste, toothbrush, medications, vitamins, clothes; all the things you normally need.

If you’ve never been camping, pack as if you’re going to the wrong side of Detroit for three days and staying in a half-star motel with no fridge or running water.  Bring your own blankets, sheets & pillow.  Leave your strappy high-heeled sandals behind.

CHILDREN  If you have small children, and it’s not possible to travel to a safe place, then collect your gear and put it all in one place:  a safe, windowless room, as if you’re about the load the car for a 3 day camping trip.  Now you’re ready to evacuate if you need to, and you know where all your stuff is either way: your clothes, water, food, cookstove, candles or lanterns, etc. are all in one place.

Treat it like a fun camping-trip sort of adventure — kids often react to these things the same way you do.  For details and (you guessed it) a more extensive list of obscure stuff, see http://www.ready.org.

FLYING GLASS  Most injuries in a serious storm come from flying glass and debris, usually puncture wounds.  This is one of those incredibly obvious things we don’t think of.  So:  during the actual storm, keep away from windows and exterior doors.  This is for real.  The basement or closet or bathroom is likely safest, e.g., rooms with fewest portals to the outside.

PETS  Put pet food, leash, an extra gallon of water, their favorite blanket, and their favorite chew toy in a plastic garbage bag — put it in the trunk of the car — with their crate — now or as close to now as you can.  We emphasize now because pet care is the easiest to ignore in an urgent situation and as a result causes the most heartache.  Don’t even flirt with it.  Here’s more from FEMA on pets — but we didn’t have time to read all that.

UTILITIES   If a serious hurricane is coming your way and you own your home or are responsible for your home, shut off your utilities.  Here’s how.

If you’re like most people under 40 who only read 40 words of any given web page and never read the manual:  get a neighbor to come over and show you how to shut off utilities.  People like to show off what they know and you get a custom lesson — you also get to find out what a monkey wrench actually is, and how to use one, which is kind of fun.

Junk in the trunk  On a preparedness note, if you’re not a New England native, you may not know this:  in northern winter months from September –> May it’s imperative to always have in your car anyway:

  1. a blanket or sleeping bag
  2. old but still functional hat, mittens, gloves
  3. old wool sweater, just in case
  4. an old (super-warm) coat you wouldn’t wear unless you had to
  5. at least one flashlight, loaded with good batteries, preferably two flashlights
  6. Swiss Army Knife (canopener, screwdriver, knife)
  7. water bottle (you may need to fill it)
  8. off-grid smartphone charger

Believe me, you’ll feel better having these things.

Here’s FEMA’s take: http://www.fema.gov/help/widgets/prepared_hurricane.html

The truth is that if you have a cell phone and an off-grid charger, you can just call for help, company, or pizza delivery.

Environmental Regulations, Green Reviews, Green Tips, Health, Nature, New England, New Green Economy, Saving the World, travel

Jen White, Kathleen Hurley join Mountain Spirit Institute as advisors

Jennifer White of New London, NH and Kathleen Hurley of Portsmouth, NH, have been recently named “Advisors” to Mountain Spirit Institute (MSI).  MSI is a non-profit educational organization based in Sunapee, NH.

Mount Washington, White Mountains, New Hampshire, USA

MSI programs have been compared to Outward Bound ventures insofar as both strive to engender self reliance, compassion, service, centeredness, physical fitness and interpersonal community-building while developing sensibilities towards stewardship and understanding of the natural environment.  MSI programs aim to endow participants of all ages with a greater appreciation and understanding of their own resources and of the people around them — as well as a better sense of their place in the world.

MSI is based in New England.  Summer 2011 programs cater to New Englanders or people prepared to visit the New Hampshire / Vermont region.

Hurley and White as MSI advisors

In the newly created advisory role, both Hurley and White will contribute expertise and advice to the organization based on their respective fields of experience.

Mountain Spirit Institute, founded in 1998, runs wilderness based programs both domestically and internationally, as well as a wide variety of workshops and retreats. The newly created advisory role broadens the scope of the institute while providing support to the board of directors. The role also engages those individuals in the community who are interested in, and have strong skill-sets and knowledge related to, MSI’s mission.

Hurley

Kathleen Hurley brings a wealth of corporate and online communications skills plus enthusiasm, writing and publishing acumen and keen business management experience to MSI’s advisory board. Kathleen has been a contributing writer to various New England magazines, and a director-level Marketing and Communications executive for almost a decade. Hurley was also a founding member of the steering committee for the successful Sunapee SunFest, a holistic health, alternative energy, music, arts, and sustainability festival which Mountain Spirit Institute created and ran for a number of years in mid 2000’s.  Hurley currently serves as the Director of Corporate Communications for Actio Corp, Boston, MA.

White

Jennifer White brings a purpose-driven, holistic approach to sustainability education at MSI. White has been an educator for over fifteen years in a wide variety of academic and community settings, and has a multidisciplinary background in physics, psychology, systems science, permaculture design, and sustainability. She served as the Executive Director of a national nonprofit called the Simplicity Forum, and was the Co-Founder and Director of Education for the Green Heart Institute which was created to help people “understand the global impact of their choices, connect with their values and live sustainably from the heart.”

White has a long history of dedicated volunteerism, but she is perhaps best known for appearing on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor.   However, her extensive volunteering with community based organizations includes being a founding member of the Rocky Mountain Earth Institute and Transition Town Lyons, both in Colorado.   She is currently the Sustainability Coordinator and an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH.

Fun, educational ways to get involved

If you or someone you know might benefit from travel (some local travel, some international) with intent to heal – please see MSI’s Programs Page or contact Randy Richards at the email provided below.

In June 2011, a MSI group will be going to Vermont for a weekend for an in-depth retreat centered around wilderness and sustainable gardening.  Check it out here:  http://www.mtnspirit.org/csl.html  Spots are limited so MSI advises interested parties to contact MSI as soon as possible to express interest.

Release date: April 16, 2011
Contact: Randy Richards TEL: (603) 763-2668, randy@mtnspirit.org

This post may serve as a news release; content may be redistributed without consent of the author.  Happy blogging everyone!

Environmental Regulations, Health, Nature, New England, Saving the World, Science

Removing Fluoride From Drinking Water

Calgary’s drinking water will soon be fluoride-free.  City councillors have voted by a margin of 10 to 3 to eliminate the controversial additive from the city’s water.

The issue had become a divisive topic.  Fluoride has been in Calgary’s drinking water for over two decades.  The city still has to inform Alberta Environment of its decision so that the chemical can be removed.

According to the Vancouver Sun, the fluoride debate isn’t just in Calgary.

Should fluoride be mandatory for all citizens?

Interestingly, few argue that fluoride is anything but good for teeth.  Although the Fluoride Action Network points out that humans can have good teeth without fluoride as an additive; then they point out 49 other reasons to oppose fluoride as a mandatory chemical medication metered to the general public by the government. (The 50 reasons are worth a read.)

Activists have a problem with a pharmaceutical creation, a medication, being mandatorily fed to a population.  “What next?” is the thinking.  Maybe Valium is good for people, too.

Valium is not a good example.  But it illustrates the problem.   Just because a chemical compound is believed to be “good for health” by current health measures, should the chemical therefore be added to public consumables?

Who’s got fluoride?

As noted in  “Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General” (the Surgeon General was David Satcher, May 2000), community water fluoridation continues to be the most cost-effective, equitable and safe means to provide protection from tooth decay in a community.

“The report cites scientific studies finding that people living in communities with fluoridated water have fewer cavities than those living where the water is not fluoridated,” says the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). “For more than 50 years, small amounts of fluoride have been added to drinking water supplies in the United States….”

We’ve all been drinking this Kool-Aid.

And while fluoride in drinking water may be good for teeth, Kool-Aid with Vitamin C added could be said to be good for an immune system.  Keep it out of my drinking water.

Portland, Maine resident Oliver Outerbridge is leading an effort in Maine to stop fluoride as an additive in public drinking water.  “Our feeling is that adding fluoride to your drinking water is a decision that should be made by an individual. It should not be left up to the government to medicate the people,” said Outerbridge.

Well, if you put it that way….

Where’s the grief?

Many communities have rejected fluoridation.

Others say a low threshold must be established.  “If EPA just did simple arithmetic in a risk assessment, it would have to come up with a standard for fluoride in drinking water of less than 1 mg/L,” said Paul Connett, emeritus professor of chemistry at St. Lawrence University, in a statement.

In Canada, about three-quarters of Alberta’s population have fluoridated water, compared to roughly 45 per cent nationally. In British Columbia, less than 4% of citizens have fluoride in the water.  And in Waterloo, Ontario, residents recently voted by a tiny margin to stop adding fluoride to their drinking water.

In Calgary, fluoride was added to the water in 1989.  City voters narrowly approved adding the substance at the time – so it was never welcomed by an overwhelming majority to begin with.

Wag the dog…?

A great followup to this blog post would be to track the supply chain.  Who’s supplying all this fluoride chemical compound to the utility companies and the public?  And who’s paying for it?

Because it sounds a little like the ubiquitous corn syrup story.  And it doesn’t sound quite right.